How The Wage Gap Impacts Milwaukee Renters

As of the 2010 Census, women comprised a slight majority of the U.S. population, at 50.4%, and nearly half of the workforce, 47%. Women are expected to account for 51% of workforce growth through 2018, which is indicative of incredible progress since 1963, when women composed 37% of the workforce and the Equal Pay Act first went into effect.

For all of that progress, however, women still face a shortfall: In 1963, women earned 59 cents to a man’s dollar. Today, that figure is 78.9 cents.

In our new report, Living in the Gap, we analyzed the gender-based earnings discrepancies — and their impact on housing affordability — for occupations and metropolitan statistical areas around the country, including Milwaukee. We found that in Milwaukee, women earn slightly higher than the national median, at 79.5. That’s good news, but that’s not the whole story.

When we examined the 25 MSAs included in the U.S. Census’ American Housing Survey and the five fastest-growing occupation categories, Milwaukee ranked in the bottom five for three of them.

For community and social service jobs, which is a predominately female industry with jobs ranging from social workers to probation officers and counselors, Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis took last place, with women earning 82.6 cents to a man’s dollar. The highest score went to Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, with 103.8 cents — this is one of just two of the occupation categories wherein women outearn their male counterparts in some cities. When it comes to affording Milwaukee apartments, female community and social service workers can afford about 1,189 square feet, whereas men can afford 1,439.

Milwaukee also landed in last place for construction and extraction jobs, the labor force of which is only about 2.4% women. Nonetheless, female construction workers in Milwaukee earned just 63.1 cents to a man’s dollar, affording 874 square feet, while men can afford 1,385.

Nationally, health care has the fourth-largest gap of all 24 of the BLS’ occupation categories, with women making about 70 cents to a man’s dollar. In roles like doctors, surgeons, specialists, nurses, technicians, and others, women in Milwaukee earn less than that national figure, with the third-largest health care gap in the study: 67.8 cents on the dollar. For Milwaukee’s apartments, that means women can go home to 1,641 square feet, while men enjoy almost 800 square feet more.

However, there is a bright spot for Milwaukee’s working women: For jobs in computers and math, Milwaukee scored the second-highest in our study. Women in Milwaukee’s tech scene earn 93.8 cents to a man’s dollar, letting them afford spacious 1,903-square-foot apartments, while men get just a bit more, at 2,029 square feet.

For more details, read Rentable’s full report and methodology.